What can an Apple Watch do

Buying advice: reasons for the Apple Watch

Peter Müller

The time will come when wishing will help again: What are the reasons for an Apple Watch under the Christmas tree.

EnlargeHow many watches does it have? Lots!

The Apple Watch is the best-selling watch in the world, claims Apple. That may be true in view of the strong fragmentation of the market that the watch from Cupertino is the best-selling smartwatch, there are far fewer doubts about that. The competition, which has been a little helpless in the face of the Apple Watch phenomenon for the past four and a half years, can now catch up. With Fitbit, Google has brought a lot of expertise into the house, the combination could most likely challenge Apple because it starts exactly where Apple also sees the greatest opportunities: in the healthcare sector. But Cupertino's technical lead is still significant. With the Apple Watch Series 5, Apple took the next step this fall: The watch now also shows the time - and always thanks to its always-on display. What is the core task of a conventional wristwatch was previously not possible for smartwatches due to the electrical energy available.

The innovation has its price, but if you want it a size smaller, you can still use the two-year-old Apple Watch Series 3 model, which doesn't even make that many compromises. Here we have collected reasons why it has to be an Apple Watch and no other smartwatch or no intelligent watch at all.

Reason 1: The diverse design

The first smartwatches existed before the Apple Watch and besides the manufacturer from Cupertino there are various others on the market. Design may be a matter of taste, but Apple didn't make the mistake of other manufacturers and either constructed a clunky monster or opted for the traditional round form factor, which is ideal for dials, but not for briefly in an email, SMS or push -Message to watch.

Nevertheless, the Apple Watch is a watch at first glance, even more so in its latest Series 5 version with the display that is always on. A thoroughly elegant watch, Apple has something for almost every taste. The aluminum version is available in black, silver, gold or rose gold, the stainless steel version in black or silver. The Series 5 also features titanium and ceramic frames. The almost infinite variety of bracelets makes the Apple Watch a wearable that can be configured as desired. Apple itself offers wristbands in silicone, woven nylon, metal or leather; third-party manufacturers add a number of other designs, colors and shapes. In the meantime, you can configure the Apple Watch with your favorite bracelet when you buy it, for some time Apple only specified a few variants, the desired bracelet then had to be purchased separately.

Apple also has two special models in its range, for athletes the Apple Watch Nike + with an exclusive plastic strap and the Apple Watch Hermès with a large variety of exclusive and not entirely cheap leather straps. The two models also come with exclusive dials (Apple calls them "Faces"), but the standard selection of these views is also quite impressive - in principle, hardly any Apple Watch is the same as the other.

All models also come in two sizes. The Series 3 with 38 mm or 42 mm screen diagonal, the Series 5 with 40 and 44 millimeters - there is more space for complications on their screen, especially in the corners, and the watch itself does not get any bigger. Apple deliberately does not speak of a women's or a men's watch, even if the conclusion is obvious with the different sizes. However, we have tested the watches and have found that men can also cope with the 38 or 40, just as women can do with the 42 or 44. However, the bracelet needs to be the correct length, this could be a problem. The bracelets are also quickly changed - a different watch for every occasion, which is not that expensive, despite Apple's bracelet prices of 59 euros upwards. Third-party manufacturers offer cheaper alternatives. Since watchOS 6, there has also been a gradient dial for newer models, so that the exact color adjustment to the clothes you are currently wearing is perfectly possible - ideal for fashion-conscious contemporaries!

Reason 2: the operation

The Apple Watch is not only a watch at first glance, but also at second glance: a cog protrudes to the right of the screen. Even watch experts were once amazed at Apple's solution for operating a digital device with such a small screen. The "Digital Crown", as Apple calls the watch crown of the digital age, is not only attractive for fans of mechanical watches. The context-sensitive digital crown is available as an intelligent control element in all conceivable situations, app developers can concentrate solely on the design.

The arrangement of the app icons on the Apple Watch screen also tells of Apple's design philosophy. If a screen is so small that the usual matrix arrangement cannot be the solution, you just take a different one. In the close packing of spheres, Apple accommodates many more symbols without losing any of the clarity. At least as long as you haven't loaded too many apps on it. But then, after a long press on the screen, you can switch to the list display, in which the apps are sorted alphabetically.

The watch can differentiate between a simple tap and a symbol, and Force Touch opens up many operating options. The fact that Apple is obviously also paying close attention to how customers use the watch can be seen from a change in the operating concept made with watchOS 3. In the first two versions of the watch's operating system, the second button on the side of the watch was intended to display twelve favorites among the contacts that could be reached via quick message with another tap or turn of the Digital Crown. Probably hardly anyone has used it, what is more important now is a kind of dock in which the currently running apps are housed and the quick switch between them is possible. A double tap on the crown takes you back to the last used app. And the complications not only provide a quick route to the relevant application from the dial, but also display some information from it, such as the remaining time of a timer. The Series 3 has some dials with up to four complications, the Series 5 can put up to eight of these symbols on the main screen.

Above all, however, Siri came to the wrist with the Apple Watch. You no longer have to shout "Hey Siri" until the iPhone, Airpods or even the watch responds, you can quickly call up the voice assistant on your wrist. Telephoning is also possible in this way, even if it still takes a bit of getting used to when chatting with the hand raised to the face.

Since the Series 3, the Apple Watch is also optionally available with an LTE chip, with an eSIM the watch becomes quite independent of the iPhone, so you can also make calls without a phone. Loudspeakers and microphone are now so good that you only have to bring your hand to your mouth in noisy surroundings. Speaking of loud: With watchOS came a new app called "Noise", which measures the ambient noise and issues a warning in case of doubt - there is also a complication for this application for most watch faces.

Reason 3: all in one

Granted, anyone who wants a fancy wristwatch doesn't need an Apple Watch. If you want to use a fitness bracelet to motivate yourself to exercise more, you don't need an Apple Watch. If you want to use a semi-professional sports watch with a GPS sensor for your training, you don't need an Apple Watch. If you need a single-channel EKG from time to time, you don't need an Apple Watch, but the alternatives are quite rare here.

But the Apple Watch fulfills all these wishes in one device and much more. Manufacturers of fitness bracelets and sports watches are increasingly withdrawing into niches, Tomtom's sports watch, for example, offers a significantly longer battery life with its black and white display. Or the Wahoo Elemnt bike computer, which is so responsive to the needs of professionals and ambitious amateur athletes that the functionality of the Apple Watch pales in comparison. If you are satisfied with a step counter in the design of a chic watch that you can also wear in the swimming pool, the Withings Activité is an attractive offer that Move ECG also creates an electrocardiogram like the Apple Watch. Fitbit, on the other hand, had to pass now, Google is taking over and has exciting plans that probably also revolve around health. Because the Apple Watch was the first watch that could detect atrial fibrillation based on pulse data, important for the prevention of serious heart diseases. However, only the Series 5 is currently able to do this.

The Apple Watch has long been running apps independently and is no longer just an extended display for third-party applications, as it was in the early days. With watchOS 6, you get an app store on your wrist right away, but the watch cannot work without an iPhone for long periods of time, or it cannot even be used without an iPhone (from iPhone 5). This connection to the iPhone is more useful than harmful: Hundreds of thousands of talented developers know how cool apps work and how they can be optimized for Apple's devices - you can see that in the App Store, most applications for the iPhone are also coming with an extension for the Apple Watch - or designed for you.

Reason 4: Informed and communicated even faster

As you can see, the fact that you no longer have to pull your iPhone out of your jacket pocket or backpack to use it not only speaks in favor of the Apple Watch. However, this reason does not seem completely unimportant to us. Because anyone who has ever stood in a crowded street or another tightly packed crowd when a possibly important call came in knows that the caller hangs up before they even got to their phone. Or the situation when you are otherwise busy during a Bundesliga or Champions League game of your favorite club: The sports app reports with a push signal, but now it is completely impossible to get to the phone, at least not without attracting attention. Brief look at the wrist - check. The watch also helps with navigation, before the iPhone announces where to turn and when, the watch taps briefly on the wrist. The same thing happens when a timer expires. In this way, important information can no longer be missed. However, there is also no excuse: I couldn't answer it ... If necessary, you just nudge the screen with your nose to answer a phone call.

Many smartphone users have deliberately done without a wristwatch since the time on the iPhone lock screen has been the standard - but fumble your iPhone out of your pocket while your date, boss or train acquaintance is bored and they just want to know how long that will take. Hardly anyone will notice a quick glance at the wrist, especially if they don't even have to wake the watch from Series 5 onwards. In this way, e-mails or chats that you consider important can be answered more quickly: If you are not bored with your date, but the boss still needs a short answer from you quickly. For some, such scenarios are terrible, but others find it a reason to buy a smartwatch, especially the one from Apple.

Reason 5: health and finances

With the Healthkit (from iOS 8) and Apple Pay, Apple offers itself as a service provider for the health system and banking. In both segments, Apple already has more than one foot in the door. Numerous studies with renowned universities and institutes use the immense amounts of data provided by Apple Watch users. Since watchOS 6, the watch has also had a cycle tracker, and studies on women's health will benefit from the data provided by users. After four years of sometimes very tough negotiations with the heavily fragmented and regionalized banking system in Germany, Apple Pay has finally arrived in this country, even savings banks and VR banks will join the system in 2019 after initial skepticism. And Apple Watch users are no longer looked strangely when they pay with the watch. This is also easier than pulling the iPhone out of your pocket for Apple Pay.

Skeptics rightly raise their voices when a provider from the USA wants them to provide highly sensitive data with which one can do incredible things, and it ends up in the wrong hands. Apple promises the highest level of security, data is encrypted, a lot of computing happens on the watch itself and not on the company's servers, where in theory it could be exposed to attacks. The patient or Apple Watch owner alone decides who can view which health data.

In all doubts, one must not forget the advantages: An elegant and practical helper on the wrist for therapy can easily collect, save and evaluate valuable data for the chronically ill, more and more medical aids are supporting the Apple Watch - Apple is working intensively with the healthcare sector .

Apple Pay is also attractive: you simply pay for your weekly shopping with a flick of your wrist! With the Apple Watch you don't even have to authenticate yourself with a PIN every time, as long as the Apple Watch is on your wrist and unlocked, that's enough for authentication. When paying with Apple Pay, you still have to authenticate yourself using Face ID or Touch ID, which is also quite convenient, but just a small step more.

When it comes to health and financial data, it is ultimately a question of trust who you trust. However, we see no reason for distrust of Apple. How Apple protects the data and privacy of its customers, the company explains in detail on its website.

Apple is very optimistic that wearable technology in general, and the Apple Watch in particular, have the power to cure diseases or at least encourage people to exercise more and lead a healthier life.Since the Apple Watch has graced the wrist of many people, we have been reading time and again reports about life-saving measures that were initiated in good time due to the startling results of the pulse measurements. This may be true in individual cases, but the Apple Watch still lacks a lot to be able to measure itself against special cardiological instruments. The single-channel ECG is a great innovation, as is the fall sensor from the Apple Watch Series 4: If you fall down and can't even move, the Apple Watch calls the emergency doctor and notifies you of your private contacts. The watch even transmits the correct location, which is still not always the case with conventional calls to 112. You can also deliberately call the emergency call quickly or display an emergency pass by pressing the side button for a long time.

The spectroscopic measurement of blood pressure or even blood sugar is still missing, but what is not can still be done, and even the ambition awakened by the watch to close the three rings of the Activities app every evening and thus train long enough and burn enough calories having and getting up often enough brings a noticeable increase in fitness. Maybe you will give a couch potato a better, sensible and healthier life for Christmas with the Apple Watch?

Conclusion: buy or not, that is the question

Not every Apple user has a need for an Apple Watch. But anyone who thinks the smartwatch principle is chic, promising or helpful cannot ignore the Apple Watch. The battery life of one day is usually not a problem either, you just shouldn't forget to connect the clock to the power supply at night. If your budget is not that big, but you know someone who treats themselves to an Apple Watch for Christmas or has already bought one - for them it can also be a nice holder for the charging cable on the bedside table as a Christmas present.

Overview: This is what the basic models cost

The models with the cheapest bracelet are listed. The Apple Watch Series 3 is only available with an aluminum case, optionally in black, silver, gold or rose gold, the same applies to the Nike special model, which is based on the Series 5. The 5 models with housings made of stainless steel, ceramic or titanium (each light or dark) are only available with an LTE chip. The same applies to the Hermès special model with its stainless steel housing.

Discover all Apple Watch models in the Macwelt price comparison here

38 mm / 40 mm (in €)

42 mm / 44 mm (in €)

Series 3 GPS

229

259

Series 3 GPS + LTE

329

359

Series 3 GPS Nike GPS

229

259

Series 3 GPS Nike GPS + LTE

329

359

Series 5 GPS

449

479

Series 5 GPS + LTE

549

579

Series 5 GPS + LTE (stainless steel)

749

799

Series 5 Nike GPS

449

479

Series 5 Nike GPS + LTE

549

579

Series 5 Hermès GPS + LTE

1349

1399

Series 5 Edition Titan GPS + LTE

849

899

Series 5 ceramic titanium GPS + LTE

1399

1449